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The FBI Bombshell Is Locked And Loaded

A whole lot of programs are sweating about now.

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NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Purdue
Purdue students wore FBI shirts to taunt Louisville earlier this season. Given the news about what the FBI has on many programs, it’s possible this could be prove to be highly ironic.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As we saw yesterday, the FBI found a lot of stuff in former agent Andy Miller’s files that could implicate a lot of programs and the people in those programs (there’s more too, including a lot of wiretaps and so on).

Pete Thamel has an article up about it and the part that kind of jumped out at us was this:

“The soundtrack to the three federal basketball corruption cases is essentially a ticking time bomb, which will inevitably explode. It will impact every major conference, Hall of Fame coaches, a score of current top players and some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected programs.

“Multiple sources who’ve been briefed on the case and are familiar with the material obtained by feds told Yahoo Sports that the impact on the sport will be substantial and relentless. Sitting under protective order right now are the fruits of 330 days of monitoring activity by the feds, which one assistant US Attorney noted Thursday was ‘a voluminous amount of material.’ That includes wiretaps from 4,000 intercepted calls and thousands of documents and bank records obtained from raids and confiscated computers, including those from notorious NBA agent Andy Miller.

“‘This goes a lot deeper in college basketball than four corrupt assistant coaches. When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated.’”

So who are those teams again? Well here you go:

  • South (Atlanta): (1) Virginia, (2) Cincinnati, (3) Michigan St., (4) Tennessee
  • East (Boston): (1) Villanova, (2) Duke, (3) Texas Tech, (4) Ohio State
  • Midwest (Omaha): (1) Xavier, (2) Auburn, (3) Clemson, (4) Oklahoma
  • West (Los Angeles): (1) Purdue, (2) Kansas, (3) North Carolina, (4) Arizona

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that “almost eight” is seven. We have no idea of knowing who they are but we can make reasonable guesses who’s not on the naughty list as we did last night and on this list we’d feel good excluding Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova, Duke and Xavier. We’d probably add Clemson if only because cheating at Clemson would seem so obvious. And it’s hard to believe that UNC, after what it just went through, would be stupid enough to cheat in this way. Roy Williams has always protested other guys cheating, or allegedly cheating that is, notably complaining at one point about Billy Donovan when he was still at Florida. Assuming he’s more honest about recruiting than academics might be a leap these days but we’ll take him at his word for now.

You can’t have any guarantees though, especially when third parties are involved.

We know Coach K has been a stickler for the rules over the years. There was one coach’s meeting early in his career at Duke when someone raised the question of getting first-class tickets for (we think) trips home and letting the players move down to coach and pocket the difference.

One well-known coach said his program had done that for years. Krzyzewski said that he had checked and it was against the rules, so Duke wasn’t going to do it.

It would be hard to be a West Point grad with all that implies and a product of Bobby Knight as coach and mentor and still cheat so we’re reasonably confident Duke won’t be implicated.

You can never tell about outsiders though. Is it possible that someone could have given a Duke player or his family money to come to Duke? Of course it is.

Whatever comes from all of this, the simple reality is that when you have hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through the sport, it’s irrational to expect corruption not to take root.

And even that is a suspect term.

The corruption of rules that don’t make sense is inevitable. But it also doesn’t make economic sense for people to ignore their self-interest, least of all people who’ve never had much money, and a lot of college basketball players come from very humble backgrounds.

If they end up having to have the NCAA tournament without, say, the SEC (we might not expect nonsense from Vandy and we’d hope not Florida where Duke A.D. Kevin White’s son Mike is off to a great start, but given the history of that conference, we’d expect just about every other school to be implicated), it would be a major hit in every possible sense. Would TV demand refunds?

The whole situation is mind-numbing and quite serious.

However, it’s also an opportunity, at last, for significant and serious reform. Everyone involved in the game should be thinking about where this is heading and where the game will be after this mess finally erupts.

It’s time for the game to follow baseball’s lead and to appoint a commissioner to clean it up and direct a transition into something sane and straightforward rather than an underground economy which exploits the players more than anyone else.

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